It is with a heavy heart that I write this post. This is my last post on this site. It may be my last post forever, depending on the reaction to this post.

I’ve been a non-RIAA reviewer for over a year now. That’s why when companies send me CDs by The Annuals, Matisyahu, or Ryan Adams, I won’t review them unless the company hosts the mp3. That used to be a safe approach. Not any more.

A few weeks ago, I posted a collection of covers of songs from the 1980s. To my knowledge, only one of the artists featured in that post had a connection to the RIAA. That was Chris Cornell. But the song that I posted was a live recording, not commercially released. Nevertheless, the post mysteriously disappeared from my site. Over the next few weeks, this happened twice more. Blogger, my host, has been utterly silent on the issue. I am not alone in this—it’s happened to some of the best bloggers out there, like
Ryan’s Smashing Life, and So Much Silence.

Then, an 11-month-old post from my Wordpress site got dinged. Unlike Blogger, Wordpress, to their credit, did not delete my post. They simply marked it “private” and barred me from writing further posts until I addressed the issue. They also told me who the DCMA notice was from. It was from the IFPI, the UK equivalent of the RIAA. The post was on a band that was independent when I wrote about them, Wild Sweet Orange, and contained only one mp3, which was hosted by RED, an artist development site that Wild Sweet Orange was using for publicity. In other words, it was a legal mp3.

How can this happen?

First, let’s look briefly at the DCMA. Under this relatively new law, any individual (including your grandma) can send a notice to a host and tell them that a blog post infringes on a copyright. The host must act immediately, and the person who wrote the post has no right to appeal during the first two weeks. This is why some Obama supporters have begun serving You Tube with DCMA notices about McCain’s fully legal advertisements—You Tube must take down the ad, and by the time McCain’s camp can appeal, the election will be over.

And is a little guy like me, who just blogs for the fun of it, going to fight it? Of course not. Even though the law supports my actions. Under 17 USC § 107, it is “fair use” to reproduce portions of copyrighted material for “ criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching (including multiple copies for classroom use), scholarship, or research.” Fair use considers “the purpose and character of the use, including whether such use is of a commercial nature or is for nonprofit educational purposes; (2) the nature of the copyrighted work; (3) the amount and substantiality of the portion used in relation to the copyrighted work as a whole; and (4) the effect of the use upon the potential market for or value of the copyrighted work.” I believe that my blog fits all four criteria; the only questionable one is the first one. And although I recently started accepting advertisements, the revenue is used to offset the costs related to this site
(such as buying music, sending out prize packages, occasionally attending concerts, etc.) This can hardly be considered a “commercial” venture. It is a labor of love that may be able to generate a couple hundred bucks a year. I’m not here to hurt anyone, and I’m not going to fight a takedown notice. I’m going to comply. Hell, I WANT to comply. I’m here to do favors for small labels and promote artists who do good live shows.

So that explains why blogger is acting this way. Why are the record companies doing this?

The answer is, they aren’t. Or, more precisely, they don’t all know they are. Sure, the big labels know exactly what’s going on. They’re trying to save a business model that is outdated and has been dying for years. But I don’t post their stuff. But artists on smaller or smallish labels may get signed to the big labels, and then the big labels hire attack dogs to protect their interests. That’s what happened with Wild Sweet Orange.

The other problem is that the U.S. label may not be aware that the British label hosts mp3s or submits material to blogs, or vice-versa. Thus, the IFPA may send out a notice where the RIAA would not. This is likely why some folks have told me that links to legal mp3s provided by Sneak Attack Media have been the subject of Blogger deletions/takedown notices.

Finally, the companies all hire robots to crawl the net, the robots find something that they think is offensive and tell the lawyers, and the lawyers send out the C&D notice. Nobody checks the robots’ work. I suspect that this is what happened to Chad, who posted links to an Elliott Smith show on, but got hit with a takedown notice anyway. These links were fully legal, but they were by an artist whose records have been published by an RIAA label. In his own words . . .

Even more weird, the post that was removed stated clearly at the very top of the post that it was an exact re-post of something I had posted one year to the day (so, easy to find if one was looking), and nothing happened to that post. So, in my case, you can actually see the post that was deleted...because it was posted a year earlier! Here it is, and notice, there is nothing posted that isn't either directly from Elliott Smith's official site, record label, or

So that, ladies and gentleman, is what a potentially illegal or infringing post looks like. That it obtains nothing objectionable or not entirely on the up and up should concern ALL of you. Because I get permission for everything I post on my site, or use the direct links that labels or artists have made legally available online (or things that are officially in the public domain) for ALL my posts, and I got hit with one of these ridiculous DMCA take-down emails and automatically deleted posts, that certainly means it could happen to any one of you who posts anything at all.
Indeed, Chad. Indeed.

So what do we do about it?

Well, we could start posting streams only. Of course, that costs a lot of bandwidth, and it doesn’t serve the same audience. I, for one, almost never listen to streams. I go to my favorite sites, read a few reviews, take a few mp3s, and listen to them later. If I like what I hear, I go buy it. Streams do me no good.

The first thing I will do is never post on Blogger again.

The second thing I will do is try to find an independent host that is free or cheap. For this, I need your help. There’s a donate button the blog. Hit it and donate, if you want to keep seeing this site. But before you do, read the third thing.

The third thing I will do is, if I return to posting, religiously avoid any artist who is in the RIAA. This includes live material. What this means for you, my readers, is far fewer A to Z posts, far fewer gonzo posts, and far fewer folks coming in through places like Hype Machine. For me, that means, most likely, less traffic.

I’ll have to see if I get enough readers to keep going. This blog has always been about independent music, and mostly that’s not been a problem.

If there’s interest in me keeping going, and I can find the funds, I’ll look for a new host. I want to note that Tim at has already been most helpful in such an endeavor. Drop a comment, let me know if I should bother coming back. Tell me if you’re interested in reading about indie artists who you may not know about, like Saturna, Diacon Panthers, LoDeck and Omega One, Marnie Stern, and all the others I’ve featured here over the years. On the other hand, if you only come through for the big cover posts, which may include artists who are on RIAA labels, tell me that, too. ‘Cause it means I’m done.


Well, they took another post of mine and I can't figure out why. I no longer believe that this is the work of the RIAA. Someone out there just has it in for me. I can't figure out who and, of course, Blogger won't say anything about it because it is impossible to reach anyone at their help desk.

The post did not have a single protected work. It was indie artists, most of whom submitted to my site.

If this post disappears, I'll really know something is wrong.

I may publish a few things I have already written over the next few days, but other than that, expect my site to be defunct for a few weeks while I figure out what to do next.

And if you are reading this, and you're the one who is messing with me, please let me know why. I have made every effort to avoid distributing RIAA protected material. If you're just someone that I offended, I wish you would just tell me. This is ridiculous.


Look out behind you! It's the fucking RIAA sending out DMCA notices on stuff they don't even own! Or stuff that label reps sent to you to review, knowing full well what your submission policy is! Run for your life! Or better yet, poke him in the balls and shit on him!


I'm wondering if I should quit blogging, in light of the deletions and stepped up C&Ds being issued here and at wordpress.



But here's the text of it. No links, though, and no pix. Apparently, someone complained. Can't imagine who.

10. Down Under-Men at Work.

I chose to use this song, rather than the paranoid "Who Can It Be Now?" to represent my favorite member of the invasion of the Aussies in my top 20. Arguably, "Who" is more appropriate because there were so many paranoid songs in the 1980s (one of the best: Norman Rockwell's "Somebody's Watching Me.") But ever since I heard Colin Hay rework this song acoustically, I realized that this is a very well-crafted pop song. Besides, if it weren't for this song, which topped the chart from January 15 through Feb 11, 1983, nobody would know what a fried-out Combie was. If you still don't know, go rent Prescilla, Queen of the Desert.


Spacecake. A bizarre version--part hard rock, part woodblock.

Curtis Peoples

9. Rapture-Blondie.

This one was harder for me, because the song itself is only so-so. But I really do dig the concept, and it was such an important song because it represented the first time a female "rapper" hit #1 on the Hot 100. More importantly, it brought Fab 5 Freddie's skillz to the mainstream—a direct result of a few CBGB punks making their way to a Harlem block party one day and being blown away. Hard to believe it was as long ago as 1981. Now, rockrap has become godawful.


None that I am aware of. But as a consolation . . .

Rappers Delight-Of Montreal

8. Beat It-Michael Jackson.

Two songs from "Thriller" are in the top 10 because, hey, even though it came out at the beginning of the decade, no record better exemplifies the excess, the nonsense, the booming pop, and the drama of the 1980s. Beat It topped the chart for three weeks (April 30-May 20, 1983), featuring an Eddie Vedder guitar solo and a young Wesley Snipes in the video. And let us never forget the best Weird Al video ever: Eat It. Two gangbangers attached by a roasted chicken, armed only with forks.



The Last Dinosaur

7. Against All Odds (Take A Look At Me Now)-Phil Collins.

Younger hipsters will know the Postal Service version of this song, which was brilliant for taking an overwrought arena ballad and making it sweet and small.

Versions: Go buy the entire Postal Service record. It's all you'll need.

6. Let's Go Crazy-Prince & The Revolution.

The Purple One is one of two short African Americans to make my top 10. He's litigious, but there's no denying his genius.


Band of Tipsys. The WTF?? version.

5. Like a Prayer-Madonna.

I wasn't a fan when the song first came out, but when all the relignuts got crazy over it, I learned to love it. Now, it's my third favorite Madonna song ever. I can't believe Maddie only made this list once. I guess I don't like "Like a Virgin" all that much.


See this huge A to Z post.

4. True Colors-Cyndi Lauper.
Love the Cyndi. And love this song, especially when she does it live. It topped the charts in late 1986.


See this huge A to Z post.
3. Owner of a Lonely Heart-Yes.

One of the first #1 hits in the year 1984, and the lonely Yes song ever to top the Hot 100. I'm not a huge prog-rock fan, but the opening of this song is pure adrenaline, and the drum work is simply awesome.


See: Owner of a Lonely Post.

2. When Doves Cry-Prince.

The '80s was the time for androgyny, and Prince was the king of it all. Doves was #1 from July 7 through August 10, 1984. And it is one of the greatest songs ever.


Ben Sollee (live, direct link)

Animal Liberation Orchestra. This is a particularly awesome version.

1. Billie Jean-Michael Jackson.
Topping the hot 100 for almost two months in 1983, Billie Jean (BJ to her friends) maliciously got pregnant and caused little Mikey so so so much pain and angst. Next time, Mr. J, put a sock on the pickle.


I recently did an MJ covers A to Z post, so I'm not going to re-do that here. But this is a particularly good one.

Billie Jean-Chris Cornell (Live, acoustic)

Coming soon: The also rans.


I can't find any e-mail for blogger support, and individual posts I 've made keep fucking disappearing!!!!! ARgg!!!!!! Does any reader have any idea why, or who I could contact about it?? My top 10 songs of the '80s posts is gone, without any explanation!! And I don't keep back ups of this stupid blog.

I am so fucking aggravated.


I showed much love to Marnie Stern when she exploded on the scene in 2007, picking “In Advance of the Broken Arm” as the Best Debut of 2007. It was alternately dissonant and shredding, muscular and intricate, and like nothing else I’d ever heard. With a sound as distinct as hers—it’s kind of like a nine-year-old choir boy at a metal nightclub, shouting in your ear that he wants a Shirley Temple with a rum chaser—it was hard for me to imagine how a sophomore release could be anything but disappointing. But it isn’t.

Like most artists, Marnie Stern's follow-up is less wild and more melodious—but not much more. It starts with “Prime,” a car-alarm of sonic urgency that blasts and blasts until, in track 2, Marnie offers the first single: “Transformer.” Here, she raps. Yes, raps. But not in a stupid, white girl way. This is the most accessible Stern song I’ve ever heard, but it’s still so off-the-wall that it leaves me out-of-breath, looking for a toehold. And while I’m dangling, she rips right into “Shea Stadium,” which begins with rolling, careening drums that bash and batter. And so it continues.

The album is much like the horrendously difficult title: “This Is It and I Am It and You Are It and So Is That and He Is It and She Is It and It Is It and That Is That.” Every song is a series of quick bursts, start-stops, nothing with more than one syllable. Sounds don’t continue for very long, notes don’t sustain, and the guitars cut out rather than fade. In some ways, it’s psychotic. In other ways, it reflects our current instant, mash-up, disposable, short-term culture.

Most rock grrls try to sound sexy. But Marnie never does. Instead, every song shouts of a body on fire and a running brain back-to-back windsprints. And that’s sexy, without even trying.


Marnie Remixed:

Absorb the Lipgloss

BONUS COVER that is about as opposite of Marnie as humanly possible:

You Will (Bright eyes cover)-Snow Patrol (live, acoustic)


Proof that Sarah Palin is wrong, and evolution is a fact!


Posted on the Ryan Adams Archive, a fan of 2006 compiled all of his new material and his improvs. It's a really fun album, because it was all fresh stuff at the time and many of the freestyles are hilarious. It's also very good quality.

A few tastes and a zip. And please drop a comment and let me know if you all are still interested in boots and shows. I don't get many comments on them, so I'm thinking of not doing them anymore.

1. Goodnight Rose (9-17-2006)
2. One Of Us Is The Sucker And The Other Gets To Play (10-14-2006)
3. Two (2-14-2006)
4. Blue Hotel (10-17-2006)
5. Arkham Asylum (9-19-2006)
6. Don't Get Sentimental On Me (2-14-2006)
7. She Turns It Up To Ten (10-13-2006)
8. Rip Off (7-25-2006)
9. Typecast (10-13-2006)
10. Lighthouses (9-18-2006)
11. Two Hearts (2-14-2006)
12. Robot Fuck (9-24-2006)
13. Breakdown Into The Resolve (7-22-2006)
14. 21st Century Wars (9-27-2006)
15.Everything Dies (2-15-2006)
16. Fantasy Balloon (10-5-2006)
17.Maps (2-18-2006)
18. Martian Song (7-20-2006)
19. Party Clown (9-27-2006)
20. Teeth Dissolving In Diet Coke (9-19-2006)
21. Who Were We (2-14-2006)
22. Rumble In Cambridge (9-27-2006)
23. Halloween Head (10-6-2006)
24. Funny Face (9-18-2006)
25. Hans Solo Medicine Cabinet (9-24-2006)
26. Oh My God Whatever, Et Cetera (9-18-2006)
27. Neal Casal Went To Pee Just Now (9-19-2006)
28. Tears Of Gold (10-15-2006)
29. Everybody Knows (7-22-2006)
30. Trouble On Wheels (10-17-2006)



(The most mainstream Yes album) + (A single with maybe the most exhilarating riff in history) X (a video with maggots) = Classic rock.

Owner-Trevor Rabin (Live)

I Like It (Feat. Boo And Mack Maine)-Lil Wayne

Owner Of A Lonely Heart (1 minute remix)-Yes. All the best parts, no filler.

Owner-Grizzly Bear

Owner Things (Yes vs Howard Jones)-Saint Bernadette

Owner-Soul Priority (live, direct link)

Owner-Bockman's Euphio (live 2002)

Owner-Yonder String Band (live, direct link)

Real maggot brain!


Clocking in at just three songs (technically two songs and a "bonus track"), the Kinetic Stereokids' EP, "Have a Nice Day" is really more of a single than an EP. Consider it an advertisement, then, for their first full-length, Basement Kids. It's hard guitar rock, and the EP's live bonus track (studio version below) has a most appropriate song name: "Explosions Were Heard." That about sums up this band.

It's hard to write a review based on just three songs, but they seem pretty good.

Have a Nice Day

Explosions We Heard

Bonus guitarsNdrums Song:

An early, and less radio-friendly, version of "Overdrive," recorded live. Fuck I love the Foos. Wish they were indie. But I admit, they're too big for indie. FF and Pearl Jam are two bands that act independent, even if they're backed by corporate funds.

Gun Beside My Bed-Foo Fighters.

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HASAN SALAAM-“Children of God”

Let’s get one thing straight: I’m not black. And have Jewish ancestry. So when I say that Hasan Salaam’s “Children of God,” a heavily Islamic rap record littered with prayer clips, sermons, and preaching black power and unity, is one of the best Hip Hop albums I’ve heard in the last five years, you know the judgment did not come easily. This is not a record targeted to a white audience, and it is unapologetically political. But it is also level-headed, without a hint of racism, proof that MLK was right: One can have racial pride without racial bias; one can talk of oppression without advocating violence toward the oppressor; one can speak the truth with pain and rage, but without hatred.

Salaam has been around since 2004, hailing from Jersey and telling street tales without glorifying gangbanging. He’s also a teacher of chess and creative writing in his home-state’s public school system, working with inmates and troubled youth, organizing community boycotts--showing that he is true to the game, practicing what he preaches. “Children of God” is his second record, and it’s the first of two albums he will release this year, both independent.

“Angel Dust,” featuring Lord Jamar, is the first song on the record with a hook, and it’s a powerful anti-drug club rap, telling a street story as well as Nas or GFK, Lord Jamar shows versatility on the hook and Mr. Salaam shows incredible skill by rapping about sex and drugs without being vulgar, crude, or even using a single curse word. Another catchy tune is “The Uprock,” featuring one of my personal favorite underground rappers, Masta Ace. Ace never goes wrong, with a thesaurus-like command of the language and a flow that’s musical without losing the hip hop cadence. Is every single song a masterpiece? No. But what album can claim a perfect tracklist these days? “The Reign” is a little schizophrenic, moving too fast to be inspirational, and Mr. Salam’s deep, dark flow is better suited for slower beats. But these missteps are still interesting, as we get to hear him stretch a little, and the few lighter tracks provide much needed breaks between the thought-provoking intensity of this record.

“Even with the seed of life, some still seek the pipe,” Mr. Salaam says on the title track. This line is just one of many he tosses off in succession. There are so many times I had to hit pause and rewind, just to catch up. Truly, this album should be played in schools as an example of how popular music can do its thing without being ignorant, and how hip hop is not nearly dead. This is a spiritual album with practical, real-life stories—an example of the way Religion is supposed to work in human life: It’s not idealistic, but it is full of ideas. Go buy it now.

Angel Dust (with Lord Jamal)


If you haven't heard Yela by now, you need to.

I'm the Shit-Yelawolf

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“One For Me To Find” has the title and sound of an old traditional. It begins with Daniel James’ forlorn voice, singing over a drumbeat and a murmuring organ, “I’ve got these outlaws chasing me . . . It’s hard to make amends, with myself and my dead friends . . .” It’s a perfect introduction for an album that sticks to Southern Rock basics, but manages to wind through Dead-like jams (“Sun’s Only Promise”), uptempo Allmans rock (“Ain’t No Surprise”), sauntering country pop (“Come Back (Now That I’m Here)”) and everywhere in between.

The band has always been the anti-corporate antidote to Kings of Leon, and a more grounded, song-based version of My Morning Jacket. They continue their tradition on their latest release, “Ain’t No Surprise.” With so many bands making music like this nowadays, it’s hard to separate the wheat from the chaff. But you can’t go wrong with Leopold and His Fiction. They’ve got solid songwriting, complete control over their instruments, and vocals that kick ass.

Come Back (Now That I'm Here)


Time of the Season (Zombies)-My Morning Jacket

Slow Night, So Long (with Ed Vedder)-Kings of Leon


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For sale from Topco, who claim that:

• Sarah Palin makes sexism sexy
• Cross party lines with your own inflatable running mate
• Three ways to do this doll: mouth, pussy or ass
• Give her a mouthful
• Blow her up and show her how you’re going to vote
• Let her pound your gavel over and over
• Bypass the Bush and have some MILF
• It’s time some male interns caused a scandal in the Capitol
• She’s the hottest thing to come out of Alask


When Signs Make Synergy


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More of the most brilliant rocker ever.

A few tastes and a zip of a great live show from Glastonbury 1999.

Dig it.

01 Techno D-Day

02 London Calling

03 X Ray Style

04 White Man In Hammersmith Palais

05 Tony Adams

06 Rock the Casbah

07 Yalla Yalla

08 Brand New Cadillac

09 I Fought The Law

10 Diggin' The New

11 Tommy Gun

12 Bankrobber


I’ve got two hot-off-the-presses copies of the brand new Val Emmich CD of glistening pop, “Little Daggers.” It’s a sweet record, and you may recall the little write up I did on the record here, at my old site. You can check out the single below.

To win, drop a comment or send an e-mail and include your own e-mail. Winner will be selected in 7 days, when I send an e-mail to two folks picked at random. But if you’re that lucky person and you don’t respond to my e-mail telling you you won, I reserve the right to pick someone else.

So be on your toes!

"Get On With It" (MP3)




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Brazilian musician Curumin has released one of the most eclectic albums of the year. “JapanPopShow” begins with the title track, a creepy, creeping murmur that is part lament, part spiritual, before launching into “Compacto,” an upbeat, funky bossa nova track that brings a hip hop element by utilizing samples and
scratches at the break, then gradually building back into the incredibly catchy hook for the fade out. I’m not generally a fan of songs in other languages, because I like to know what the song is about, but I find that with Curumin, the music is so fascinating, so varied, so complex, and so much fun that I just don’t care. The third track, “Kyoto,” is a cookout party track, with Blackalicious & Lateef The Truthspeaker, which is guaranteed to start you moving. Blackalicious is one of the most underrated underground rap crews out there, and Curumin first teamed up with that group’s Chief Xcel back in 2005.
Every track is great, but a few other standouts include Salto No Vacuo Com Joelhada, which
incorporates what sounds like a child’s mobile music box with aggressive high hat and more DJ
scratches—it’s a sound collage easily as good as anything the X-Ecutioners ever produced.

But he can also do more straightforward rock and samba. The slower and beautiful “Misterio Stereo” features fantastic live percussion and a combination of gentle instrumentation that feels like flying. And the surprise gem here is “Mai Ester Card,” where Curumin puts on a voice like Ray Davies over a jaunty, bouncy composition that you’ll swear is The Kinks in Portuguese.

Can it be that one my favorite albums of the year is not even in English?


Mai Ester Card


I love love love this Grateful Dead cover by a really solid indie band. Can't tell you how great it is. You need to hear it, and buy the 7" that it's from, which you can find here, because it's got an equally great cover of Cream Puff War.

Cold Rain and Snow-Oneida

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The Meat Puppets unofficial bootleg, Portland Zoo, was actually recorded in Italy in 1992, and is a fan favorite. It's easy to understand why. Stellar sound quality, a good mix of fresh covers and band classics, as well as some lesser-known material . . . If you're a Nirvana fan, you need to experience the sound of Meat, because Cobain frequently sang their praises. And their songs. They were also one of the first cowpunk bands.

A few tastes and a zip. Dig it.

01 Automatic Mojo (2:45)

02 Forbidden Places (2:28)

03 Leaves (2:12)

04 Another Moon (3:27)

05 Six Gallon Pie (3:12)

06 Enchanted Porkfist (2:13)

07 Lake Of Fire (3:01)

08 Popskull (2:30)

09 This Day (4:04)

10 Maiden's Milk (3:38)

11 Lost (3:27)

12 Open Wide (2:30)

13 That's How It Goes (3:50)

14 No Longer Gone (3:52)

15 Swimming Ground (3:47)

16 Look At The Rain (5:30)

17 Help Me Make It Through The Night (Kris Kristofferson cover) (3:46)

18 Good Golly Miss Molly (Little Richard) (2:52)

19 I Fall To Pieces (Patsy Cline) (3:10)

20 I Wanna Be Your Dog (Iggy Pop) (3:43)

21 Fuck You (5:35)

22 Liquefied (4:14)


Regular readers know my favorite band is The Clash, and I know I haven't been posting nearly enough of their stuff. Gotta keep them alive y'all. But today, I'm posting my favorite current band--The Foo Fighters. This is an April 1995 set from a New York City club, way before they were the biggest hitmakers in rock and roll. And the really cool thing about this is the first track, which I offer as a savefile in case you're not interested in the whole show.


01) Instrumental Jam by Hovercraft, with Eddie Vedder on Drums, Beth Vedder on Bass.
02) Down In The Park (Gary Numan cover)
03) This Is A Call
04) Good Grief
05) I'll Stick Around
06) Weenie Beenie
07) Big Me
08) For All The Cows
09) Floaty
10) Alone + Easy Target
11) Shine / Exhausted

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1. Ain't Talkin' Bout Love (Van Halen)

2. Rockin' In the Free World (Neil Young)

3. Jealousy (w/ Betty Lavette)

4. People Who Died (James Carrol)

5. I'm Eighteen (Alice Cooper)

6. Buttholeville-DBTs with The Dexateens

7. Play It All Night Long (Warren Zevon)

8. State Trooper (Bruce Springsteen)

9. I'm Your Puppet (Marvin Gaye)

10. Marry Me

PRIYA THOMAS-“Blood Heron”

Classically trained Canadian Priya Thomas has been in the music biz since her 1996 debut, “In The Throes of the Microscope,” but I confess that her upcoming 2008 release, “Blood Heron,” is the first I’ve heard of her. And I couldn’t wait to tell you about it.

Opening track, “Your Guitar, My Undoing,” is the most mainstream song on the album, with a steady beat and a classic rock feel, sung like Lou Reed on “New York.” The normalcy is deceptive, though, because under it is an alt-rock feel, a slightly behind-the-beat strum, and layers of vocals that seem to pile higher as the song reaches its climax. On “Had I Known, I Would Have Declined,” Ms. Thomas sinks a little deeper. She’s still using the classic song, but now she’s closer to Bob Dylan’s “Lay Lady Lay” period; but there’s a fuzzy, bassy noise in the background, and about halfway through she interrupts herself with voice that sounds like Sam Philips, showing range and charm. It’s almost like doing rounds of Row Row Row Your Boat: It feels like it all fits together, but something is slightly off. And then the song ends, suddenly, abruptly, like it fell off a shelf.

As the album continues, increasing amounts of ambient noise and dissonant harmony are introduced in a wonderful, jumbled mess. It’s as if each song was broken down into component parts and then all the parts were put in a pile and new songs were assembled, using pieces from a variety of sources. It’s not an easy record to hear, but to listen is an experience. In a world where so many female singers make little more than background music, here’s a songwriter who is not afraid to stand up in front, take risks, and challenge her listeners. She’s got a beautiful voice, but she’s willing to sound ugly when it fits the song. And she can write uncompromising, half-broken songs as good as Tom Waits or anyone else.

For fans of: Marnie Stern, Lou Reed, Bob Dylan, Tom Waits, Beck, Radiohead. And if that’s an eclectic group, there’s a reason: Priya’s songs travel through each of these regions, seamlessly, combining sounds you’ve never heard before with ones that are intensely familiar.

This is an extraordinary album.

Had I Known, I Would Have Declined

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You read right. LoDeck, a lyricist and rapper who you’ve probably never heard of, has created an album with some of the most detailed, complex lyrics I’ve heard this side of GZA. Coupled with the gritty, 1970s funk production of Omega One, this duo has created one of the best albums of the year. Omega One cut his teeth working with the well-respected (and well-reviewed by this page) Vast Aire, and he’s turned his attention to a phenomenal underground rapper who is just as comfortable telling hardcore stories as espousing street philosophy. In this regard, he’s like Nas, but he’s less interested in uplifting his race than sharing his world view. On the title track, he tells us “why words sell, dizzy get busy with it;” on “Wipe Out Zone,” he deftly spits tongue twisting verses, firing off deep thoughts faster than the ear can listen (“If words could kill/If carbon paper ended carbon life”); I could quote him forever. The funky “On a Path,” a spiritual exploration of street life, is a perfect example of LoDeck’s ability to craft deft one-liners: “When you do enough drugs, you do not need meditation,” he says, but without snarl or irony.

With well-placed guest shots by several underground rappers including the great C-Rayz Walz, who also released one of the other best-rap-albums-of-the-year on a collaboration with Kosha Dillz, “Postcards” deserves space on the shelf with greats like Deltron 3000, MF Doom, Blockhead, Cannibal Ox . . . Genius lyrics, deep production, and an album that can’t possibly get boring any time soon. Again, this is one of the best of the year.

Wipe Out Zone


From Bootcamp Klick members Helta Skelta's new and pretty good album, D.I.R.T.,

The Art Of Disrespekinazation (prod. by Khrysis)


The Mystery Tramps are a bunch of kids. A bunch of young rugrat teenagers who make solid pop/rock, with fun hooks and solid vocals. And they’re from Massachusetts. Their album “We Are The Mystery Tramps,” is a fun, if somewhat shallow, album that hints at better things to come.

If kids can produce this kind of music, then maybe there is hope for the future.

At the complete other end of the spectrum, there’s Jay Crocker, a mature, jazz-trained Canadian who is also in the band Ghostkeeper. Crocker’s second album, Below The Ocean Over, was produced by Craig (Neko Case, Iron & Wine) Schumacher—where The Mystery Tramps’ producer’s pedigree included work with The Cars. Jay’s genre-defining record includes folky pop, poppy folk, and several experimental instrumentals, such as “Your complete Guide,” most of which end too soon because they’re interesting and moody. But it’s not the worst thing in the world to be criticized for leaving the audience wanting more, I suppose.

Crocker’s work is unpredictable and provocative—the antithesis of the feel good party inspired by The Mystery Tramps. I recommend listening to both, alternating song for song, on a long car ride. The experience will either keep you awake or shatter your ability to form linear thought.

She Said-The Mystery Tramps

Tornado Warnings-Jay Crocker

Bonus covers:

In honor of the Mystery Tramps:

The Kids Are Alright (Who Cover)-The Whigs

In honor of Jay Crocker:

Same Old Song (4 Tops cover)-Iron & Wine


The band Hospital Ships took their name from a Flaming Lips song and, although the band is not as odd or experimental as the Lips, there's a definite resemblance. From Jordan Geiger's strangely Muppet-like voice to the obtuse lyrics and quirky music, "Oh, Ramona," is a fun/disturbing adventure. It alternates between "Baby For J," which seems like an indie-pop song, and "I Want It To Get Out," a big-sounding, gigantically odd ditty. At first listen, I thought this wasn't much of a record. But with repeated listens, I became increasingly grateful I gave the record a chance. The music doesn't come easy, but trust me, it comes. And it's well worth the effort to get it.

Buy direct from Graveface Records, here.

Bitter Radio Single


Nearly Lost You (Acoustic version)-Screaming Trees


A band that emphasizes country over alt-, Slimfit’s debut album “Make it Worse” is a fast-paced collection of barnburners, boozy love songs, square-dance punk, and grit. Not the Ryan Adams kind of Americana—more of the Jeff Tweedy/Jay Farrar/Mike Doughty vein, seasoned with twang and honky tonk.

Most of the tunes are barnburners, but a slower,
jauntier country song, “Make It Worse,” is an example of the band’s versatility. But they’re at their best on tunes like “Fight Til You Die,” which is as good as anything the Old 97s ever put out. “Dancin’ Shoes” is another good one—featuring a female vocal and a fiddle—because it’s so different from the rest of the record. There’s a danger with an album like this that every song will start to sound the same, but every time Slimfit threatens to get repetitive, they pull out a surprise like the harmonica-driven, midtempo, “That’s Me,” a lyrically simple song that builds slowly into a fantastic climax.

The key element to Slimfit is energy: Every song is played like a club set closer, and there’s not a bad song on the record. This could be one of the most impressive debuts I’ve heard this year.

For fans of: Uncle Tupelo, Steve Earle, The Replacements, Tom Petty.

Fight Til You Die

That’s Me


Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow (carole king)-Wilco

The harder they come Joe Strummer backed by The Long Beach Dub All Stars (jimmy cliff cover)


Hova's hit.

Oasis' dis song.

Y'all remember the recent Oasis/Jay-Z feud, right? If you don't, you can see how Jay-Z can do Oasis just as good as Coldplay does Oasis. Only Jay-Z, of course, doesn't rely on ripping the Gallaghers off for his income.

But thanks to Cookin' Soul, the two parties have joined.


Ignorant Shirt

Justify It Out

Zip File.

Stumble It!


The cows finally figured out how to kill the meateaters: Krispy Kreme Bacon Cheeseburgers. With mayo. Mmmmmooooo.

HOLDING MERCURY-"Downfall of an Empire"

You couldn’t ask for a more mainstreamrock sound than what you’re going to get from Holding Mercury’s “Downfall of an Empire.” With obvious influences from Cheap Trick and the 90s alt-rock sound, the new record is a crisp pop album that sounds completely ready for radio . . . Even if, on the lead track, they claim to be “running away from the corporate mainstream.” The best part of the album is that they they’ve got skills on top of the great production here. They lyrics are good and PG (lots of lines about caffeine, none about coke), the hooks are terrific, and the vocals are pitch perfect.

This is not what you’d expect from an indie band.

Let It Go

Stuck in a Box

I'm Not Well

PICTURE OF THE DAY: Pie Chart Edition



“Opening up the health insurance market to more vigorous nationwide competition, as we have done over the last decade in banking, would provide more choices of innovative products less burdened by the worst excesses of state-based regulation.”

- John McCain

Note: This is exactly what W. Bush did in the financial markets, and we see how great that's turning out.

When I read that Dungen's fourth studio album would be titled “4” I eagerly anticipated covers of Misty Mountain Hop, Going to California, and, of course, Stairway, all in the Swedish band’s signature heavy psychedelic mode. But it’s not a covers album. There’s probably not a huge market for orchestral psychedelia, let alone jazzy metal, but wherever such records are sold, they should make “4” their pick-of-the-year. None of the album is in English, so the sounds have to tell the story, whether it is the intricate, Grateful-Dead-meets-Metallica instrumentals, which stretch out and sprawl (“Samtidigt 2”), or the pastoral, string-based “Maleras Finest,” or the metal-meets-piano of Fredag, or the perfect-for-blues vocals. Instead of pushing aggressive licks, the album creates a mood. Albeit a heavy mood, and one with plenty of aggressive licks. “4” offers an all-encompassing environment of dense, intricate metal. A forest to
be lost in. Like Metallica did on “S&M,” Dungen moves past the limitations of metal and enters an even bigger, more self-important world.

And they are masters of their domain.

For fans of: Cream the “Golden Nuggets” sound.

Samtidigt 2


One Big Holiday-My Morning Jacket w/Kirk Hammet of Metallica

Alone (acoustic version)-Pearl Jam and Alice in Chains